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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ite Missa Est


In light of the recent motu proprio: Summorum Pontificum recently issued by Pope Benedict XVI (and also the fact my present church is being led by substitute teachers the rest of the summer), I played hooky Sunday and attended a Latin Mass at St. Agnes Church on East 43rd Street. It was a joyous experience. It was wonderful to see in an RC church orthodox practices Anglo-Catholics take for granted such as the communion rail and ad orientem. It was wonderful to hear chant intoned expertly and the congregation responding enthusiastically. It was also wonderful to hear the Latin words (when they were meant to be heard) and with the help of the missal and a veteran Catholic friend it was not at all difficult to understand what was going on. One thing that struck me is how quiet much of the Latin celebration is, especially during the Canon. While I suppose that quietness is to what critics of the old rite are referring when complaining of priests muttering at the altar, to me it is absolutely appropriate. If one truly believes he is experiencing the actual presence of Christ an appropriate expression of awe is in order: shaking hands and chatting up your neighbor is not, reverential silence is.

I wonder how many of those frequently vociferous critics of the Latin Rite have actually experienced it and if they have, how recently. I find it hard to believe any of them, were they to attend a Latin Mass at St. Agnes, would still be opposed to it. Then again, religious innovators, in their zeal, are deaf and blind to the beautiful so I suppose it's possible. Look what they have done to much of Anglican worship and gotten away with it. Look also what they have done to Roman Catholic worship but thanks to His Holiness, may not get away with it much longer. Benedicamus Domino.

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